Waste Governance – understanding Extended Producer Responsibility


In the global quest for sustainable waste management solutions, the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) has emerged as a pivotal strategy. Originating in Europe in the 1990’s, EPR essentially places the onus on manufacturers to take responsibility for the entire life cycle of their products, from production to final disposal.

The goal of course is that by incorporating key aspects of waste governance, sustainability and innovation, companies, through the implementation of EPR, can transform waste management practices and start transitioning to a circular economy.

A model of success

Over the past three decades, EPR implementation in Europe has proven to be a game-changer and in many instances, a model of success in sustainable waste management.

EPR and associated legislation has compelled manufacturers to take responsibility for their products, thereby altering their role in the waste management sector from passive by-standers to active contributors. In fact, this holistic and collaborative approach of EPR allows manufacturers, government entities and communities to contribute to more sustainable waste practices and solutions, reducing the environmental impact of products and serves as a blueprint for other regions and countries to follow. Subsequently over the last few years, EPR schemes have been spreading in emerging economies in Asia, South America, and Africa and the success in Europe offers invaluable insights which can be tailored for application in diverse regions, including South Africa.

Legislative framework & voluntary initiatives

As we know, South Africa has a relatively new waste legislative framework consisting of various regulations, Acts and strategies focused on guiding and shifting the country to implement and operate more sustainable waste management practices and solutions.

One of the most prominent Acts is the National Environmental Management: Waste Act 59 of 2008 and the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) 2020. In line with the intention to divert waste from landfill and transition to a circular economy, South Africa has had a voluntary EPR scheme in place since the early 2000s, with material organisations for different material types e.g. the PET Recycling Company (PETCO) was established in 2004 focused on the collection and recycling of PET beverage bottles. Over time, other organisations were formed such as Polyolefin Responsibility Organisation (Polyco) NPC and Polystyrene Association (PSA).

The final EPR regulations for

Kate Stubbs | Group Business Development and Marketing Director | Interwaste | mail me |

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